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Hi Everyone~ I'm seeing a lot of problems with the transmission posted and have found some possible causes, but really nothing definite. We bought a 2005 Beetle GLS 2.0 for our daughter a week ago. Three days later it started hard shifting between 3 and 4. Read up on the recall, but the previous owner chose not to do this and its now expired. I've seen posts about changing the trans fluid, could be from changing the battery and not having the trans reprogrammed after, if the car has been sitting for a period of time this could happen, too. We have a service contract on it, but it won't kick in until we've put 1,000 miles on it. We have about 800 more to go. Our daughter doesn't like driving it since the hard shifting has been happening. Now, I've seen a lot of hard shifting between 1-2 or 2-3 but nothing much on my problem, 3-4. Otherwise the car runs fine and this only happens after about 15 to 20 minutes or after its warmed up. Have also read people take it to the dealer, get charged for putting it on the computer and finding nothing wrong. What do you do at that point?? We've had the Beetle exactly one week today. Extremely unhappy and any help or suggestions are greatly appreciated!! We're hoping this can still become the good little car we hoped it would be when we bought it.
 

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could be from changing the battery and not having the trans reprogrammed after
Lets get this on the table right away... there is no programming, shift points, relearn, reset, ect ect ect on your trans.

In the VW/Audi family of transmissions, only 2 version have any kind of relearn procedure to be done, the CVT and the DSG. All other trans, they should simply work.

To that end, you could have a valve body issue, and as such, replacing the valve body may fix the problem. The TCM calls for an action from the valve body and it is assumed the valve body performs to factory design. The problem is, you could have a sticking valve and the TCM would never know it. Thus no fault codes.

Flip side, you could have a failure further up in the trans, and replacing the valve body would have no effect on the poor performance of the transmission.

I have dealt with a lot of "local" transmission shops that have rebuilt VW/Audi transmissions only to complain they have the same issues as before... and then start asking about doing some sort of relearn. Pretty much all I can tell them is they have a bad trans with new parts in it. Rebuilding these transmissions correctly super specialized skill. I do not have said skill and know better than to tear down an automatic.

You could have a fluid issue. If the trans does have a leak, you will see signs of oil build up on the outside. If the trans is dry and dusty, odds are it hasn't leaked. Since the problem is not a cold start issue, this makes me think it would not be low on fluid.

IMHO, ride it out for 800 miles and then have the trans replaced. I would avoid letting a "local" repair shop rebuild the trans, too many bad stories out there.... not dishonest techs, but ignorant of the details for these transmissions.
 

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I have to clarify at bit here, no disrespect to Pencilneck, but there are in fact different TCM or Transmission Control Module programming options, software updates and there are also adaptive transmission leaning for the Tiptronic transmissions aka "Fuzzy Logic". I need to make this clear as there may be others that read these forums and I want to make sure accurate data is in fact posted.

Although I have not been a VW tech, I have been repairing all makes and models of cars and trucks for WAY too many years. I also have a 2003 VW Beetle GLX Convertible I purchased new and during the time I was taking my car to the dealership, I had a very close both business and personal relationship with both the dealership service manager and shop foreman. I had dealt with these transmission issues on my personal car with shifting problems before the valve body issues were well known and of course my car had TCM updates in an attempt to correct shifting issues.

I can tell 100% that VW did release updated TCM software for the Tiptronic transmissions in an attempt to resolve/correct shifting issue. BUT, it was really a waste of time as at the end of the day you cannot correct mechanical problems with software. Additionally the Tiptrnnic transmission also has fuzzy logic and can lean transmission engagement and shift personalities based upon the way the car is driven.

So for example when I had my valve body reworked, the transmission shifted actually worse for the first 50+ miles until the TCM adjusted to the reworked valve body. What was happening is the software was handling the shifting with the old worn out valve body and once the reworked valve body was installed the software did not know how to deal with the new parameters and behavior of the reworked valve body.

Now, all this being said, as I mentioned before, there is no software solution for a mechanical problem in this situation. Many dealers attempted TCM updates, probably as VW did not want to extend the transmission warranty and/or pay for expensive warranty repairs, but at the end of the day, the software updates did not really solve any of the problems.

As for the transmissions, overall they are very robust with the exception of the valve bodies. You did not indicate how many miles are on your 2005, but I would say likely all you need is a reworked valve body.

The proof will be in the trans pan once it is dropped. The amount of clutch material and metal in the trans pan will give you a good idea what shape the trans is in. NOTE: all higher mileage automatic transmissions will have debris in the pan, clutch material and metal particles, this is NORMAL, but many trans shops use the standard line of "there is metal in the pan" we need to overhaul the transmission. Metal in the pan and on the magnets is a GOOD thing, this means it is not circulating in around inside the transmission, the issue is HOW MUCH metal and clutch material in the pan is acceptable based upon the transmission mileage? This is somewhat subjective, however, anyone that has and experience in transmissions and repairs should be able to make a reasonable judgement call, assuming their primary motivation is not to make money!

But straight to the point, there is no software/computer solution for your transmission. Do not go down this path. Your car needs a valve body at a minimum, it may need more, but it needs a valve body rework. You may or may not be able to rely on the extended warranty company, but READ THE FINE PRINT, they try to get out of EVERYTHING!!!

The trans will work fine until the fluid is warmed up and thinned out, this is typical. You will soon notice very harsh downshifting from 4-3 or 3-2 as well. The warmer the fluid, the harsher the shifting.

Depending on where you live, if the ambient temps drop the car may be more tolerable to drive?

Again, do not waste time and money on electronics, it will not solve your problem.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
IMHO, ride it out for 800 miles and then have the trans replaced. I would avoid letting a "local" repair shop rebuild the trans, too many bad stories out there.... not dishonest techs, but ignorant of the details for these transmissions.[/QUOTE]

Thank you very much for your response. After the countless articles and posts I've read over a few days (my head is still spinning!!) it seems that the extended warranty on the valve may solve my problem. Having to get in those 800 is going to be rough considering it starts hard shifting after 15-20 minutes. Plus I've read that driving it when its doing that could actually make things worse. I cannot tell you how confused I am. The car has 98k miles on it. We bought it for our teenage daughter, so we weren't looking for a brand new car, but were HOPING for a reliable and safe car. My daughter absolutely loves this car, but as mentioned, is scared to drive it because of the jerking with the hard shift.
 

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So for example when I had my valve body reworked, the transmission shifted actually worse for the first 50+ miles until the TCM adjusted to the reworked valve body. What was happening is the software was handling the shifting with the old worn out valve body and once the reworked valve body was installed the software did not know how to deal with the new parameters and behavior of the reworked valve body.

Now, all this being said, as I mentioned before, there is no software solution for a mechanical problem in this situation. Many dealers attempted TCM updates, probably as VW did not want to extend the transmission warranty and/or pay for expensive warranty repairs, but at the end of the day, the software updates did not really solve any of the problems.

As for the transmissions, overall they are very robust with the exception of the valve bodies. You did not indicate how many miles are on your 2005, but I would say likely all you need is a reworked valve body.

The proof will be in the trans pan once it is dropped. The amount of clutch material and metal in the trans pan will give you a good idea what shape the trans is in. NOTE: all higher mileage automatic transmissions will have debris in the pan, clutch material and metal particles, this is NORMAL, but many trans shops use the standard line of "there is metal in the pan" we need to overhaul the transmission. Metal in the pan and on the magnets is a GOOD thing, this means it is not circulating in around inside the transmission, the issue is HOW MUCH metal and clutch material in the pan is acceptable based upon the transmission mileage? This is somewhat subjective, however, anyone that has and experience in transmissions and repairs should be able to make a reasonable judgement call, assuming their primary motivation is not to make money!

But straight to the point, there is no software/computer solution for your transmission. Do not go down this path. Your car needs a valve body at a minimum, it may need more, but it needs a valve body rework. You may or may not be able to rely on the extended warranty company, but READ THE FINE PRINT, they try to get out of EVERYTHING!!!

The trans will work fine until the fluid is warmed up and thinned out, this is typical. You will soon notice very harsh downshifting from 4-3 or 3-2 as well. The warmer the fluid, the harsher the shifting.

Depending on where you live, if the ambient temps drop the car may be more tolerable to drive?

Again, do not waste time and money on electronics, it will not solve your problem.
Thank you so much for your input on this problem. Do we take it in to the dealer now and have them put it on the computer to see what the problem is, if anything even comes up? From the responses I've gotten here so far, it really appears that it is the valve. My husband isn't a mechanic, but has worked on our cars before for maintenance issues, replacing things, etc. I've read that these could be done DIY. Not sure how much it would cost to have it done by a VW dealer or how involved as a DIY. Any suggestions on this would be appreciated as well!
 

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Thank you so much for your input on this problem. Do we take it in to the dealer now and have them put it on the computer to see what the problem is, if anything even comes up? From the responses I've gotten here so far, it really appears that it is the valve. My husband isn't a mechanic, but has worked on our cars before for maintenance issues, replacing things, etc. I've read that these could be done DIY. Not sure how much it would cost to have it done by a VW dealer or how involved as a DIY. Any suggestions on this would be appreciated as well!
The problem is WELL KNOWN.

Do not waste your time and money taking the car to the dealer for any software check or diagnosis, there is no computer scan will tell the dealer or anyone else what is going on. The valve body is worn out, this happens to ALL of these cars with both the 4 and 6 speed automatic as early as 60k miles and as late as 100k miles depending on if the car was driven in city traffic or was a highway cruiser. Fluid changes will not solve the problem and fluid changes would not have eliminated the problem. The design and materials were crappy, bottom line, stupid engineering decisions and poor material choices.

Here is a link on trans fluid fill that I put together to give you an idea about what is required - http://newbeetle.org/forums/transmission-talk/60709-auto-trans-level-check-fill-info.html

The hardest part of the valve body job is the small wiring connections and keeping track of the 14 or so wiring connections inside the transmission. If someone plans on doing this job, pictures, drawings, notes and labels are very helpful. It is about a 3-4 hour job to remove and reinstall the valve body, again, wiring connections and making sure all the bolts, brackets and clips are in the proper location.

You could ask the VW dealer how much a replacement valve body would cost, this is something they should be able to give you a solid number on, however, the dealer will be probably the most expensive option?

You should start asking around if there is a independent trans repair shop that will just replace the valve body.

A reworked/exchange valve body is around $550-$600 typically, then expect to spend about $75-$125 for fluid and filter. The filter and pan gasket can be reused, as I recall you will need possibly up to 5 qts of fluid? Ask me how I know!

How many miles are on the car at this point??
 

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One more comment, you indicated that 3-4 shift was hard. This is nothing as compared to the harsh downshifting that happens, you think the transmission is going to fall out onto the road.

I realize this is probably your young daughter driving the car and she may be worried/scared about the harsh shifting. She is probably a bit overly sensitive about how harsh the shifting is??

I cannot tell without driving the car, but from all the cars I have driven with these problem, the upshifting problems are NOTHING compared to the downshifting problems. Likely she can lift her foot at the time of the upshift or manually shift the car using the Tiptronic shifter option and "manage" the problem for a short while.

Where do you live? City and State? Trying to get an idea of the temps that you are dealing with and if there are any shops I may be aware of.

Bottom line, car needs a valve body regardless of what is going on.
 

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One more comment, you indicated that 3-4 shift was hard. This is nothing as compared to the harsh downshifting that happens, you think the transmission is going to fall out onto the road.

I realize this is probably your young daughter driving the car and she may be worried/scared about the harsh shifting. She is probably a bit overly sensitive about how harsh the shifting is??

I cannot tell without driving the car, but from all the cars I have driven with these problem, the upshifting problems are NOTHING compared to the downshifting problems. Likely she can lift her foot at the time of the upshift or manually shift the car using the Tiptronic shifter option and "manage" the problem for a short while.

Where do you live? City and State? Trying to get an idea of the temps that you are dealing with and if there are any shops I may be aware of.

Bottom line, car needs a valve body regardless of what is going on.
We're in western DuPage County in IL and the car has 98,000 miles on it. My husband said it does buck from 5th to 4th and it revs when going from 3rd to 4th. It's quite a jarring motion, as I've been in the car when it happens, but it doesn't feel like the transmission is going to fall out of the car. It's still scary as that shouldn't be happening and we're afraid of her being stuck somewhere while out with it.
 

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A bad valve body should not leave the car stranded. It can and will put more wear and tear on the transmission than if everything was working properly.

Given you are in the northern part of the US, as the outside temps drop, the shift harshness may be reduced a bit. But again this has more to do with how quickly and how warm the transmission fluid becomes.

If it was my car I would pull the trans pan and inspect the magnets to see how much metal is on them. Then this would give me a good idea of how much damage/wear the transmission has suffered over the last 100k miles.

Then this would give a good idea about how to move forward. The fluid could be drained into a clean container, strained and reused so you do not have to waste money on fluid.

Sorry, I do not have any suggestions for shops in your area. Suggest you get on the the Internet and start contacting independent shops about a valve body only solution.

Just be careful as most shops claim they will not warranty the work unless you get a full overhaul. I have a 2 year warranty on my valve body and I had mine reworked, I removed and reinstalled it myself.
 
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